Angry over the absence of thalassaemia treatment in Punjab and the discrimination meted out to people suffering from the disorder, NGO Voice of Amritsar (VOA) held a march with the students of of Spring Dale Senior School to sensitise the public on the issue.
The NGO said people suffering from the disorder were discriminated in terms of awarding better jobs despite being academically-equipped in most cases.
It also expressed dismay over "the ignorance of the health ministry and local doctors" on the issue.
The march was a part of the one initiated by mountaineer and skydiver Sukh Brar from Kotkapura village on January 10 in support of thalassemia patients. It will conclude at Kotkapura village on February 20.
Brar, during an interaction with students, claimed that the state has around 1,890 thalassaemia patients, with the maximum number (1,500) in Patiala followed by Chandigarh (150), Amritsar (130) and Jalandhar (110).
"The public is not aware of the ailment. Such instances are increasing in Punjab as compared to other states," she said.
"It would be wrong to blame the public for ignorance when even the health minister and the doctors are not aware of the disease and its consequences," Brar added.
She said the ailment could be curbed by prohibiting genetically-mismatched marriages, as the disease was usually passed on from affected parents to children. "Nowadays, it is more advisable to match reports of genetic tests instead of horoscopes to ensure a happy marriage and healthy kids," Brar said.
Brar said Punjab lacked facilities to treat patients of thalassaemia. "The treatment is unavailable in Punjab because of which the thalassaemia patients here have no option but to opt for expensive treatment and medicines available in Delhi and Chandigarh. I spoke to the health minister and he has assured to take steps in this regard," she averred.
The students had the chance to interact with some thalassaemia patients, who urged everyone to come forward to spread awareness about the ailment.